I was reading the March/April 2018 issue of Fast Company recently and the "From the Editor" article caught my attention. The title of the editorial is "Lessons of Innovation for 2018". In the editorial summary Robert Safian highlights a recent visit he made to Apple Park, Apple's "new spaceship-like headquarters in Cupertino" California. Safian had many positives to say about Apple, Tim Cook, and the products Apple makes and sells. Safian made a couple of interesting comments that struck a chord with me. First, "While many outfits aspire to emulate Apple's system, it's the company's adaptability that truly sets it apart," and second, "Apple's culture combines intense effort, high standards, and a willingness to forge new paths, even if those paths may threaten the company's existing products." The whole time I am reading this I can see the exact same comments being made about Ripple.
Regarding the first comment about adaptability, Ripple has had its own wallet, had started Codius, then shelved it only to restart it again, built software (xCurrent and xVia) that helps open liquidity corridors that can then be filled with a new products, xRapid, which requires XRP. And now there's speculation about xPool and what it might entail. Ripple has been very sensitive and adaptive to the needs of the market and has worked to ensure they are the "anti-peanut butter" company (I wonder if Ripple serves peanut butter at it's headquarters....). Brad Garlinghouse, while a Senior Vice President at Yahoo! said,
I've heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world. The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular....I hate peanut butter. We all should.
Ripple's focus has been perfectly clear: they are trying to fix the multi-trillion dollar problems of time and cost for cross-border settlements.
On the second comment, Ripple has proven itself to be extremely focused on this core problem of cross-border transaction settlement. That said, it has also begun to recognize the need to build out core products that support and expand the Internet of Value (IoV) by restarting projects like Codius and being willing to sign deals with startups like Omni while its senior officers invest. Omni doesn't focus on the core of cross-border transaction, but neither does Money Tap. However, just because Ripple's focus is on cross-border payments doesn't mean others cannot help build out the part of the IoV that focuses on retail use. David Schwartz, Ripple's Chief Cryptographer, stated on Twitter that he gets uncomfortable when Ripple speaks for XRP and that Ripple is only sharing its vision for XRP as those in the bitcoin community do for bitcoin. In the end, Ripple's goal is to drive value for the billions of XRP they own....that's important to remember.
The rest of the article focused on thirteen lessons that can help guide everyone through the technological innovations coming in 2018. Ripple was not mentioned....anywhere. Yet every point is a point that has been touched on by Ripple.
#1. Don't Look Down... The article says, "Apple doesn't obsess about its stock price." Instead, Cook says that focusing on each near-term quarter "distracts from long-term strategies and investments that are actually the source of Apple's success." Brad Garlinghouse has taken a similar approach with the price of XRP (Ripple stock is currently not publicly traded). He states that he is "not focused on the price of XRP over three days, or three weeks, or three months. I'm focused on the price of XRP over three years and five years." Apple, the article continues, "is always looking out, toward the future..." And so is Ripple.
#2. ...But Watch Your Step. This next section mentions that Alphabet and Facebook are "absent from this year's list" because they "both, in different ways, found themselves over their skis this year - and stumbled." Ripple must be careful with its strategy and vision or it could end up allowing another company utilizing decentralized ledger technology (DLT) to out maneuver them. Look at Bitcoin. It was hailed as a way to bring down the banking system and a way for the "little guy" to control his money outside of "the system". Now, Bitcoin is not hailed as an operational currency so much as a "store of value." If not careful, Ripple, and XRP, could find themselves removed from the spotlight to the dump.
#3. Responsibility is in the Mirror. "Every business can be a platform for cultural impact, and not simply through soloed corporate social responsibility programs. Patagonia has had an exceptional year—financially, as well as in the realm of public opinion—because it has leaned into environmental activism." Ripple has set itself, and its technology, as the anti-bitcoin when it comes to environmental issues. There have been articles posted ad nauseum speaking about the electricity needed to run Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS) networks. The RippleNet is able to complete transactions faster, less expensive, and using a fraction of the electricity that PoW and PoS networks use using a consensus model for deciding on which transactions to include in a block and closing that block.
#4. Transparency isn't Radical. "Why would a company willingly disclose its profit margin on each item it sells? Because Everlane isn't embarrassed about what comsumers will find out, and that puts pressure on everyone else to be more open." Ripple has been open and honest about is vision and strategy, even to the point of "allowing" the world to see how much XRP is sold in a given month from each escrow because the transactions can be seen on the public ledger. While we all wish we knew more about Ripple's partners, those announcements will come as both Ripple and their partners are in a position to make those announcements together. However, Ripple's strategy, technology, and use of XRP is open for the world to see...putting pressure on everyone else to do the same.
#5. Diversity is Opportunity. "Marvel Studios has reinforced its leading position by betting on new kinds of heroes. Netflix has made it a priority to appeal to kids in Bangkok on motorbikes." Ripple is not just focused on one piece of enterprise software to build out the IoV and ultimately drive use for XRP. Instead, they have positioned themselves to use xCurrent and xVia to drive use for xRapid. And, we are now just learning about a potential new feature, xPool. While there is much speculation surrounding what xPool is, there is no doubt that it will help fulfill Ripple's vision and be a core part of the strategy to drive XRP utility and price.
#6. Momentum is Power. " Apple is hardly the only tech giant to benefit from an integrated ecosystem....China’s Tencent, already a dominant player across chat, media, finance, and more, experienced 59% growth in revenue." Ripple has built up a lot of momentum coming into- and in the first part of this year. First, the company has been building out its talent network with recent hires Cory Johnson and Tom Channick. Additionally, Ripple has begun a "marathon" on partnership announcements since the beginning of the year. Garlinghouse recently stated that Ripple is signing up, on average, more than one bank per week. Momentum is definitely on Ripple's side.
#7. Soloists Still Stand Out. "Spotify’s focus on music has so far fended off even rivals like Apple, with revenue up 52% and more than 140 million active users globally. DJI has turned drone making into an art. Compass Group has amassed enough heft in the food-services business that it is changing what we eat—for the better." The point? Ripple's focus on removing friction in cross-border payments is exactly what it should be doing (remember, anti-peanut butter). Ripple should not try to be everything to every person or entity out there. Yes, XRP can solve a lot of problems, but Ripple's focus on cross-border transactions will allow them become more than just SWIFT 2.0.
#8. The Expected can be Unexpected. "Sugarfina is redefining the idea of the candy store, while Diamond Foundry is disrupting jewelry by taking man-made diamonds mainstream. Even our sullen acceptance of traffic jams is being challenged by Waze." And yes, money can be sent from California to London faster than getting on a plane and flying it there, when Ripple's products are used. Even SWIFT is trying to play catch up because they did not expect the disruption that could be caused by distributed ledger technology. Ripple is ahead of many other digital assets, too. While many have white papers and present possible use cases, Ripple has done more than that by executing its plan and signing on actual partners who are using its products, thus building out the IoV and driving XRP adoption and price.
#9. Data Science is for Everyone. "Math geeks and tech firms aren’t the only ones deploying data in novel ways. Rover analyzes cues from its community to find better matches for pet care. Cava is injecting new efficiency—and joy—into the restaurant business. Syapse is taking cancer care to the next level, saving lives." And moving money across borders is faster, cheaper, and allows for full disclosure on a public ledger due to the way data is packed and moved, thanks to Ripple.
#10. Artificial Intelligence is Everywhere. "The machines haven’t taken over, but they are enabling new activities,..." Ripple's use of nodes and validators reduces the time to present transactions, process them, and settle them to mere seconds. What currently takes SWIFT days to complete with its antiquated systems can be done in 3-5 seconds with Ripple.
#11. Mobile is Still Expanding. Ripple has partnered with SBI to help build MoneyTap, a "groundbreaking smartphone application" that will "allow customers of the [Japan Bank] consortium to settle transactions instantly" proving that "the power of blockchan can be applied to solving domestic payment issues as well." This app will be going live in the autumn of 2018, according to Ripple.
#12. Money Talks. "As trite as it is true, dollars dictate action. Which is what makes a wave of new efforts to fix broken funding models so promising. Social Capital has taken aim at venture capital, while the Ford Foundation is going after philanthropy. The folks at GiveDirectly are putting millions behind a test of universal basic income." Ripple and the Gates Foundation are working together to create Mojaloop, an open-source software, by creating "a real-time, interoperable payments platform on a national scale to reach the world's poor with essential financial tools....Mojaloop can be used to connect customers, merchants, banks, providers and government offices across a country's economy, accelerating progress toward a truly inclusive economy."
#13. Keep the Faith. "We all have good days and bad days, moments of adulation and despair. What allows innovative organizations—and their leaders—to keep driving forward is the hope that tomorrow will bring even more satisfying, fulfilling achievements." It seems dark days are upon the price of XRP right now and everyone is looking at the price of XRP today instead of, like Garlinghouse, looking three to five years down the road. The fundamentals are strong, as pointed out by this blog by Hodor. I implore you to keep the faith in what Ripple is doing. In my last blog I spoke about how Ripple is building out the IoV, one partner at a time, and that the IoV is driving xRapid and XRP adoption. Stay strong...Ripple is a "fast company" deserving to be on anyone's list of innovators for 2018 and beyond.
On that note, we are all stronger together. We must work together and support one another to help keep the XRP community positive and standing tall. Redwood trees can grow as tall as 379 feet (the tallest currently standing), longer than a football field. However, their roots only go down about five or six feet. How can a tree over 300 feet tall survive wind and storms when its roots are so shallow? The root system of Redwood trees all intertwine together, as the roots from one tree reach out over 100 feet. This system forms a mesh, or web, of roots under the ground that help each tree support its neighbors. This is why you never see a Redwood standing by itself...they always grow in groves so they can support one another.
The XRP community is like a Redwood grove...none of us can stand alone. We all have our part to play in supporting the community and each other. We must realize that we need each other if we are going to stand tall and strong against the winds that blow in these markets and in life. I do not wish for prices to go down so "I can buy more" any more that I wish something negative happen to someone. That goes against everything Ripple and we as a community are trying to build. At the same time, I realize prices fluctuate and life happens. When prices go down we need to remind each other of the fundamentals behind XRP and "watch each other's back" inside and outside our community. Otherwise, as a community we will be blown over by the prevailing winds. Remember, Ripple is not only a good company, it is a "fast company" with roots extending out like a web helping to support the entire XRP community....our roots brings us together.
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